Friday, 26 May 2006

It's Friday...

Hi there,
well, sorry to hear the weather there isnt too good, as usual its hot hot hot and no rain in three days now. Everything is so dusty.

We have had a great week, I have helped in numerous classes including a PE lesson yesterday when the pregnant teacher went home. When I asked what lesson they were supposed to be having I wished I hadnt asked. Apparently half the class go up to another school for acrobatics and the ones left were due PE. I took them outside and organised a dribbling line for them to slalom through I even timed them, they thought this was great but even better when I joined in. They love football so much I did tackling skills and then played goalie (a bad one!) We also did some shooting the hoop with a net ball net. By the time I got back into class I was filthy and very very tired.

Today we turned up for school to be told that one of the older boys, Michael Okoth (16 years old) had collasped at school yesterday. He had been taken to the private hospital just up the road from SCANN. Apparently he fainted after doing some sport and hasn't regained consciousness since. They have been doing blood tests and will probably do a body scan later today. Debbie and I were sent up the road to see what was going on, they felt that we may have more authority than them. I explained that neither of us had any medical background, but we went anyway.

Michael is on a saline drip and is still unconscious, whenever they try and revive him he has fits. The nurses care isn't very good so we are doing a rota of sitting with him for a few hours at a time to make sure he doesn't vomit and that the iv is ok. Doesn't look too good. I am on afternoon duty from 3 - 5.30 then again in the morning at 9. It is a scary place the hospital, very antiquated I hope he pulls through apparently he is a very academic student and they know he will go far.

I have managed to get out of my trip this weekend and will go later in my placement. That leaves me free to help out with watching Michael.

This morning before we went to the hospital a teacher hadn't turned up for her class so I set some work for one of the classes to mark on Monday. Whilst I was writing on the board they were all whispering my name and calling me Mamma ( I think they were glad I was there, they actually hunted me out to take their class). They are so eager to learn that is is amazing. We have been asked to do lots of craft work with them next week as there is a meeting of the trustees in two weeks time and we are looking at putting their work on the walls to make it more lively.

Debbie, Megan and I are arranging a party for Scann children on the 1st June which is a holiday over here. I did some invitations last night and photocopied them this lunchtime in town. We are planning party games, there is a lady called Yasmin who is a strong business woman who helps fund the centre. She runs a supermarket chain and is meeting us on Monday morning to provide us with food and gifts for the party.

Will keep you posted on Michael's progress. Tomorrow night am planning on going with the girls to spend the evening at the baby orphanage, they invite the volunteers round on a Saturday night for video night, so will be doing that after helping settle the babies down for the night.

Will be in touch again soon, sorry still forgot the piece of paper with the address on it, will definitely send it to you tomorrow after my stint at the hospital.

The girls I share with have gone away until Monday so I am home alone, its very weird, firstly getting used to sharing with strangers and now being there alone. It isn't an unpleasant thing as I have lots to do as I bought lots of hand crafted post cards from boys in Nakuru who walk around selling them, so I have loads of writing to do, also preparation for the party, we are making hats etc.

Ok time to go now as need to get back to the hospital.

Hope you are all well,
Susannah xx

Tuesday, 23 May 2006

Hey what a day.......23 May 2006 15:19:20

Ok you have waited for news long enough, here goes, all going very well here. The trip to Mount Kenya was a little more than we bargained on as far as energy expended. It took us three hours travelling time to get to Mount Kenya...... we sat in the Matatu for two hours in the scorching heat waiting for the thing to fill up, when I realised that there was only one seat left to fill I insisted on paying for the empty seat as we were dying in the back, it was like sitting in a tin can over a flame, we were being pestered every two seconds by people trying to sell us things in the windows so we had to close the windows. How many pairs of men's socks or watches with Bin Laden on it can a woman possibly want!!!

The three hour trip was not a pleasant one the roads were loosely called roads, mostly dirt tracks with lots and lots of holes. We arrived at the hostel we booked and it was pure heaven.... The place had the most beautiful gardens and not a car horn blaring within ear shot.

We were given a fab evening meal and we all slept together, six girls and one young guy called Nigel, we had a room with 4 bunk beds, I had a top bunk, Nigel was on the bottom!

On Saturday we had a lovely breakfast and got ready for our trek which we were told was 3 hours to a set of caves. When we had assembled with rucksacks we were given loo roll which should have been a bad sign, we were checked for hiking boots, water and given a packed lunch. Our guide then told us that the hike would be 7 hours..........Oh my God!!!! We treked through streams, bogs, up and down crag's and eventually got to the caves, the guide told us to get out our flash lights, no one had told us to take any, mine was on my bunkbed post!! We wandered round the caves with one small flash light between us. We couldn't see anything!!!!! Very very unsafe, we shuffled our feet a lot!

The walk back was exhausting it was very very hot and we had managed to finish all the water we had. We struggled to get back to the hostel, I was the last one, and I cried with exhaustion when I got through the gates, the guide didn't know what to do with me, he made someone run for a bottle of water, I sat for a while before getting the energy reserves to walk into the shower. We were all totally whacked, none of us talked through dinner and we headed to their on site thatched pub for a well earned drink before bed.

On Sunday we could hardly walk, we just sat in the garden and wrote letters, read etc. On the way back the vehicle we were in had a burst hose, so we were further delayed in a hot vehicle.

Sunday night was chill night, the girls in my apartment and I (Jo & Mad) sat in the empty apartment upstairs (where the other girls stayed who were away in Mombassa for the week and where we eat our meals) we watched Lion King, it was lovely. Unfortunately we got no sleep that night there were too many revellers outside the apartment, I think there may be a brothel as the noise and disturbances are awful.

Yesterday I took two classes, it felt great, although I have a problem with the fact that they have black boards and chalk, sets my teeth on edge just holding the chalk let alone writing with it. Yesterday we were honoured to help hand out uniforms for the boys, it was a great occasion for them all, they looked great. The older boys still had no shorts in their sizes and no shoes.

Today, Debbie and I went into town with one of the teachers and I bought 24 pairs of boys charcoal shorts and Debbie bought 39 pairs of shoes. We looked very strange on the boda bodas getting back to SCANN, we had one guy with the sack of shoes on the back of his bike.

We were allowed to hand out the shorts and the shoes this afternoon and we duly took loads of photos, the boys looked so proud of their new uniforms, they have never had one before, only the bigger boys who attend the funded schools get them.

The head teacher from SCANN wanted lots of group photos with the teachers in too, we had a fabulous day, it was emotionally exhausting though, just watching the reaction of the boys made me want to cry.

They have got used to me know and many come up and hold my hand. I was honoured today as I had had the presence of mind to take in my sewing kit as we need to make some alterations and the tiny boys need elastic putting in the back of their shorts, that will be a weekend job I feel, when they aren't wearing them.

Ok that is the news for now........... I am supposed to be going to the Masai Mara at the weekend but am trying to get out of it and postpone until later in my trip........ so you may have another email break if I go, it will be from Friday until Sunday night.

Bye for now, having a totally rewarding time out here.


Going going gone ........................

Monday, 22 May 2006

I'm back...

this is just a really quick one as it has taken me nearly an hour to just read the emails that I have received whilst away at Mount Kenya. Thank you so much. I sat in a room with a lot of men with tears running down my cheeks. Will send you an email tomorrow as got to go shopping for shorts for the boys, the big boys didnt get any........... now thats another story.

Thursday, 18 May 2006

Breakthrough ...18 May 2006 15:15:47

Hi there,
today was the hottest that I have been here. My arms look very red! I wont be called white person now ('Mazungu') I will be red person!!

Last night we got no sleep, I think the locals use any excuse to drink and the football bought them out for a beer or whatever..... what a roudy lot, hardly got any sleep, gave up with the earplugs, they just wont stay in, spend most of the night searching for them....... may need to use plasters over the ears!! NOT!
(sister on boda boda as example!)

This morning went by Boda Boda ('dubby' on bike) to the project, found they were a teacher down so stood in, this was the 6/7 year olds.... ended up playing frizzby and football with them, they seemed very pleased when I showed them I could do a handstand, I think the ice has been well and truely broken now. We even did head shoulders knees and toes, they knew it and were better than me, played Simon Says too which was fun.

Had the strange lunch of white potato/rice alternative and shredded Kale, nice.... Decided not to go and buy a bike today as the other girl is actually away for a week in Mombassa and wants to get a bike too, hers would be sat for a week chained to the rails, so will wait till she gets back, not sure I am up to being the 'white person alone on a bike and lost!!'

Tonight we are out as one of the girls moves on tomorrow. Should be fun, about 15 white girls on the town! Tomorrow I am off to Mount Kenya with some of the girls for the weekend, I am not climbing it as it is the rainy season and apparently makes the trip rather bad, we are visiting the Mount Kenya park and staying at a friends hostel there. Apparently the countryside is fab.

Next weekend I am off on another girlie trip to the Masai (not to be missed apparently) we will be staying in 'nice' tents.

Forget to mention yesterday afternoon was washing time at the project so went with Megan to an orphanage that they know run by a couple who have come over and settled from Australia. They cater for babies and toddlers, the only one here, others tend to have toddlers onwards.
I sat with a girl named Zippy who is 4 and suffering from TB and Aids, she was left to die in a cot in the hospital when her mother died of Aids, she had no medication as there was no-one to pay for it. Ivan and his wife took her in and she is now on the mend from the TB, when that clears they will be able to start her Aids treatment, which out here is a very hit and miss regime. She was so painfully thin that I was afraid to hold her, but by the time I left she was smiling and laughing. It is amazing what these children are managing to live with and how little they have. Will try to visit them again they have a total 19 babies and toddlers so will be off there whenever I can after my project.

Ok well must sign off as it took an age to read all your messages, just to let you know the bodaboda man who gave me a lift today was impressed that I could tell him to go faster and slower............. needless to say faster was whilst we were struggling up a hill!! he he.

Take care of yourselves, having a fab time, missing you all.


Tuesday, 16 May 2006


Ok, just to point out that I hadnt planned on doing this today, but all the girls ended up at the cybercafe after the project so what could I do?

Last night settled into my room that I share with Madeline and Joanna, they are young (20's) and already friends. This morning woke up to the sound of trucks and minibus horns, apparently, they use them a bit like a male symbol of masculinity...... at 05.30 its taking the michael!!! No wonder the girls sleeep with earplugs in.

It hasnt rained today but is really hot and sticky, everything is covered in a coating of gritty dust. I walked round Nakuru today with Ailsa (the co ordinator) she is really nice, we visited the project at Scann, it is shaded and they grow their own veg there.

The boys that don't go out to school range from 3 - about 7 and are a little wary of strangers, but things changed when I was asked if I wanted to stay to get the feel and then ended up with a class of about 20 of the 6/7 year olds, their teacher had been detained. We did colour of clothes they were wearing and items of clothing, needless to say when the teacher arrived I was glad to see him.

Lunch was interesting I ate at the project, it was something a bit like mashed potato, but you could pick it up with your fingers, so a cross between mash and soggy rice, and shredded spinach. Yum.

The sights and smells are amazing, not all great!!!! Me included after a day in sticky clothes. We rode around today on a boda boda, think that is what its called, its a guy on a bike who cycles like mad with you perched on what should be the parcel rack at the back with a cushion on top, very interesting in the traffic, poor guys I need to loose weight!! Another girl and I (Megan) are talking about getting our own bikes to donate when we leave, I will get fit if it kills me!!!

Ok am hoping to get a cheap mobile tomorrow so will be able to keep in touch by text hopefully too on the days when I cant get here.
All I can say is WOW........................ it an amazing experience, I am so glad I came.

Love to you all,

Monday, 15 May 2006


Ok, today I move from Nairobi on to Nakuru, I am not sure when I will get to the cybercafe there so thought I would drop you all a quick line.

I am fine, stomach is better, although am feeling very out of breath apparently Nairobi is at higher altitude than I am used to, so any small bit of exertion causes me to be out of breath, thought I was just unfit, probably that as well!

They are talking about me using a bike to get back and forth on, should be fun, Amanda looking forward to breaking in that seat!!! hehe! I will pass on to family a contact address when I am given it as I am in another apartment to the one originally given. Had a long chat yesterday after the orientation, sounds like they have a project for me to do as I am here for three months, just dont know what it is yet.

I have a two and a half hour bus trip to Nakuru, yesterday it poured with rain all day got totally soaked, this means that the bad roads when dry will be a nightmare today, muddy and more rain due. Looking forward to it. Hope you are all well and not too bored with the messages, thanks for those that you are sending, they make me smile. Les, Beth is great, a good laugh, she told me to tell you she is tall, slim, blonde (you get the picture!) I will miss her but the organisers are trying to get the two groups together for social outings)

Nats, sorry to hear you are unwell but it is probably about time you spent some time in bed it was your turn! Big hugs all round, Kimberley is off to Bulgaria for a week, anyone been there and can give her tips???????????

Ok signing off now, mwah!!!!!Susannah

Sunday, 14 May 2006

Day Two!

Thank you all for your messages, unfortunately the system out here is driven by hamsters, it is so its taking ages just to read your messages, but am getting through them.

My room mate arrived last night, unfortunately too late to join me for dinner, that was an interesting affair, I was the only non local in the place everyone was watching the footie, just like me not to even know who was playing. Needless to say I stuck out like a sore thumb. I did however, you will be pleased to know, manage to eat my meal and keep it down.

Beth is a bundle of joy, a 26 year old American, I was so pleased to have someone to talk to that she probably thought i had verbal Diahorrea (cant spell it!). Today we had breakfast then went for a short wander. I think we got about 2 ft before being approached for something or other, we had a large following by the time we had finished out short walk, up the road and back.

All of you take care, hope you are all well.

Will be moving out to the placement tomorrow, I am glad that talking with Beth that I am not alone in my feeling of not sure what I will be able to accomplish out here but will put everything into it.

OK time for me to go now.

Saturday, 13 May 2006

Introduction: Landed in One Piece!

My Kenyan adventure volunteering was with a company called i-to-i. I couldn't decide which country to go to so asked them where would I be most needed, they said Kenya. I booked a 3 month trip and was placed at a project that rehabilitated street boys in Nakuru called SCANN (Street Children's Assistance Network of Nakuru). My experience left such an impact on me that I extended my trip an extra month and then returned, again and again..... this is my emailed journal back home to family and friends..... many suggested that I publish them in a journal, this is the nearest I have got........

Hi Everyone,

Just a quickie to let you all know arrived in one piece, think the hostel is taking the 'P' they put me on the top floor 4 floors, no lift, can you imagine the size of my bag! Got a guy to lug it yesterday and I nearly passed out just carrying the rucksac. Today got up for breakfast and was told I need to change rooms, I said there was no way I was going to move my bag, they sent up this little slip of a guy... I felt really guilty, not!

Well my first night was spent sleeping, didnt see much of anything as it was dark when I arrived. Ventured to the cafe next door that works as the restaurant, managed fruit and one piece of toast, still feeling sick, got some pills from the pharmacy at the airport, seem to be helping but forgot to take it before breakfast, spent about 1 hour trying to make myself eat the toast! I was the only female and white in the place, a little disconcerting!

I am now in a room that I will be sharing with another volunteer, as and when they appear, it will be good to have company. The new room is on the ground floor and is cooler!! Yipee.

Forgot how lucky we are with broadband, this is so slow its taking ages to read my emails...... so much for me making this short and sweet.

I ventured to the supermarket this morning for more water and something for lunch, it wasnt too bad, loads of taxi touts outside the hotel, but walked with purpose and didnt get mugged once!!

OK Time to go, take care of yourselves.

Susannah signing off!